Supply chains are heading for drastic change.
The rate of change we can expect is debatable but during the next decade the term supply networks will become very familiar, as digital technology transforms the way supply chains can function. Today’s digital supply chains will be seen as an intermediate stage between the traditional supply chain and third generation supply networks embedded in a fully digitised industrial new age, Industry 4.0.
Commentators on the gathering force of digital proliferation have generated a barrage of buzzwords and what-if? scenarios that are understandably confusing. Yet manufacturers need to see through this –to understand clearly where they stand in terms of digital supply chain technology, to discern where investment in technology will deliver the most strategic benefit and to plan accordingly. For the unprepared, the growth of digital supply networks will pose a real threat, while for others it will present a winning opportunity.
This ebook explains in layman’s terms what is meant by a digital supply chain, where the technology has come from and how it is heading towards the digital supply network . More importantly, it aims to provide a clearer window on its implications for UK industry, pointing out the key areas in which manufacturing supply chain managers should focus their attention.
Currently, a digital supply chain comprises the same basic elements that have existed since organised commerce began. In a left-to-right, linear sequence they are plan, source, make and deliver. Others may be included, eg develop, return, support but the point is they are discrete, sequentially linked operations. Activity in a supply chain element depends on information coming from another element in the sequence.
Almost every modern manufacturer’s supply chain may be described, to some extent, as a digital supply chain, as companies by now have digital technology involved in one or more of these elements. In the best examples, every section of the chain uses digital technology to enhance operational performance and those manufacturers have engaged with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems to process and harness the data produced. Nevertheless, supply chains are incredibly complex and no manufacturer yet operates a supply chain that is fully digitised, with end-to-end visibility and operating in a dynamic network.